NASA: Melting Arctic ice leading to warmer climates, droughts

NASA pic of ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean (NASA)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Triple-digit heat is returning to the forecast Wednesday through Saturday as rain chances fade back to zero.

Thursday and Friday should bring the hottest temperatures so far this summer, topping 100 degrees in many areas. However, don’t lose hope for a cool down yet, a slim chance of showers returns early next week.

NASA just released some big news about our changing climate. KXAN’s Meteorologist David Yeomans had the chance to speak with NASA climate scientist Dr. Compton Tucker from Maryland.

David: Temperatures around the world have made records for the warmest 14 consecutive months, which means we’ve had the hottest January and February ever recorded.

NASA pic of ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean (NASA)
NASA pic of ice coverage melting in the Arctic Ocean (NASA)

Now all eyes are on 2016 already on pace to be the hottest year around the world. NASA is now sharing their analysis of international temperatures so far in 2016 with some remarkable findings. Some of the most startling numbers are coming from the Artic where Alaska is shattering all-time records.

NASA has scientists up in the field, what are you seeing?

Dr. Tucker: Yes we do. We have some NASA projects operating out of Alaska now.

There are aircraft missions called Operation Ice Bridge. We fly NASA instruments like we have on our satellites, but we have them on planes. What they do is collect data over the Arctic Ocean of the Arctic sea ice. They also collect data over Greenland because we are worried about what’s happening in Greenland with the ice sheets there.

David: Speaking of that ice in the Arctic is melting at unprecedented rates. I saw two Texas-sized chunks of ice missing compared to what we typically see with ice cover.

What would the consequences of something like this be?

Dr. Tucker: What the consequences of the Arctic Sea ice melting would be if you had ice in the Arctic Ocean it reflects sunlight back into space.

If there is no ice there, the energy from the sun goes into the water and warms it more so you have a feedback. This is why the ice cover is very important because it maintains ice by reflecting energy back into space.

David: So some folks might think, well we are getting warmer, that sounds nice, more comfortable to live in.

Why do we care about the impacts of this record heat around the world?

Dr. Tucker: The impacts of warmer conditions are two things.

One, is you have more frequent droughts because it will be very warm or warmer. If you don’t have precipitation that is not very good for plant growth.

The second problem we have in the Western United States with warmer conditions is we have more forest fires in the summer and this is worrisome because if it doesn’t rain for a period of time and it’s very warm those are excellent conditions for forest fires.

David: And we can certainly relate to that in Texas with several fires in our recent history. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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